The Dust Bowl of God’s Grace; Musings on Seasons of Drought
“Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” – 1 Kings 17:1
When God chooses to shut off the heavenly faucets of precipitation, we must remember that it was His sovereign hand that turned the nozzle on the water faucet in the first place. In His infinite wisdom, God knows precisely when to open the skies and when to shut them up, and has every right to do so when and where He pleases (Psalm 115:3). Yet whether our fields are dried or drenched, we can find comfort in knowing that our heavenly Father always knows what is best for His children. It is a comfort to know that both seasons of drought and seasons of rain fall are within the framework of God’s providential care. He knows the amount of precipitation best for His people at any particular time and place. In our passage above, the people in Elijah’s day faced a long and severe drought. It reminds us that the Christian can learn a lot during dry times.
A season of drought is just one of the many reality checks the Lord will use to remind us of how we desperately need Him. It might be that God intentionally withholds the rain so that we will depend on Him all the more. It is beautiful thing to see your crops wilt and your cisterns run dry if it causes you to have a greater thirst for God. Oh that we would pant after God just as the deer pants for the steams of water (Psalm 42:1)! We must always choose calamity over comfort if it draws us closer to God. It is so easy to self-sufficiently bask in the rays of the sun while accompanied with routine cycles of rain. But if either rain or shine is absent for a time, we soon realize how dependent upon God we really are.
Also, if we are not rooted in Christ, it is easy to lose our focus and feel as if the earth is somehow chaotically out of sync or imbalanced during seasons of drought. But nothing could be further from the truth. God will always have His creation under His care and control. There is comfort in knowing that there will never be a point in history when the created universe will outgrow creator God.
But there is another truth to ponder. When the heat has baked the ground to where the dirt has turned to dust, it reminds us of how dusty and crusty our own hearts can become towards the things of God. We cannot expect to flourish and grow if we are not drinking from the well of God’s Word. We cannot expect fresh vegetation to sprout up in the garden of our heart if sin hinders the flow of the Holy Spirit of God within our lives (John 7:37-39). And we most certainly cannot expect the soil of our heart to stay moistened if we are not lapping from the streams of water He provides while out in the desert (Exodus 17:6). Even in the driest of times, God will provide the nourishment we need. But we still must receive it. Elijah survived a portion of the drought by drinking from a stream of water in the wilderness and acquiring meat and bread delivered to him by a God-sent raven. Yet Elijah still had to cup his hands to drink from the stream, and he still had to swallow the food brought to him by the raven (1 Kings 17:3-7). We must always remember that living out our faith always requires action on our part.
Obviously there is nothing wrong in praying for rain (James 5:17). But if God chooses to answer our prayer with a, “No, not at this time”, then we should thankfully receive the free bowl of dust that He graciously gives us. After all, no matter what our current circumstances may be, our heavenly Father always has our best interest in mind (Jeremiah 29:11). What a glorious truth to know that God’s dust bowls can pour out some of the greatest blessings in the life of the believer!
– Pastor Eric